Ace of Hearts

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  1. Hi everyone, Thanks for your comments last week. I'm here with the next couple of chapters of Bond of Wildflowers, with any and all feedback appreciated. In particular, I actually find prescriptive advice to be very helpful so any suggestions on what you would do with the story are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. I'd suggest either dropping the exposition about them entirely/save it future chapters or creating a situation in which B's dislike for R interferes with the mission (or their other goals) so we have a reason to care about it
  3. Nice to get to read some of your work! Looking forward to digging in  Overall: For someone new to writing, this reads rather well overall. Certainly better than my early attempts at fantasy writing. For me the biggest missing piece is character motivation. Why is B part of this group, what are they trying to steal, and why? I need to have a feeling for what a protagonist’s goals and values are to find them compelling. As I go: Pg 1-2. This does a good job of setting up the heist and the danger, and I think I need to know more about this heist. What are they trying to steal and why? Pg 3-4. I can tell the T are important, I don’t get a good feel for what kind of creature they are. Nest makes me think some sort of birdlike or insect thing Pg 5-6. I think that for the dynamic between B and R to be compelling to me it has to be woven into the current plot/conflict instead of being given to us in exposition Pg 8-9. Descriptions of the T are good, especially the face/eyes. It might be better to not mention them as much before now so that we don’t have to wonder what they look like from page 1.
  4. Thanks for the feedback so far! I'll try to respond later in more detail but it seems like the biggest thing that I need to highlight upfront is that the medicine isn't the silver bullet solution to her mom's illness, which gets touched on more later.
  5. Excited to dig into this! Overall: I feel like the encounter with S is where the story really gets rolling, and the scenes before about research don’t have much of an impact without knowing the connection between the shadowy organization and magical heritage. I do think we need a bit more from the encounter with S, either more information or R having a plan to figure out more, since right now it feels like there’s not a lot of forward motion carrying us into the next chapter. And somewhat relatedly, R feels fairly passive here, so there’s an opportunity to get her more involved right off the bat. As I go: Pg 2-3. I get that this is important setting info but with no plot hook I can see I’m not fully latched onto it Pg 5. For a story with pretty simple language, the top half of the page feels bogged down by legal jargon. Also, I can see that the story is trying to set up a mystery but the emotional hook is still missing for me Pg 9. The end feels like it could be a plot hook, and if it is I want to see this much sooner. Could even start the novel off with it Pg 10-11. There’s a lot of description here and which makes it hard for me to pick out the important bits and get a real feeling of the scene Pg 12. Are these wolves important for the world/plot? Right now it feels like an excuse to have R get saved Pg 14-15. This feels like the first real bit of the larger plot we get. Since the wolves are important it might be good to highlight that when we first see them, that they act different from normal wolves Pg 17. If I were R I’d be more concerned about what they think the threat that requires protection is. Does the library know that this shadowy organization is after R?
  6. Nice to get to read more of this!  Overall: I was fairly engaged reading through, especially getting a better feel for the society, but I’m not sure if it does enough for the plot or the characters. What’s the real arc here? We get good worldbuilding, but the big points introduced—A’s instincts and saving the man from the humans trying to lynch him—don’t have clear connections to larger plot arcs right now. As I go: Pg 1. Small thing but I feel like a lot of times when someone says “the homeless” they’re being judgmental which doesn’t seem like A’s opinion here Pg 2-3. It’s good to get a bit of a picture about the larger world. While the plot’s not moving I’m still fairly engaged here Pg 6-7. This is about where I feel the chapter is lagging a bit. I think a feeling that something’s wrong is too vague for me to be invested in it Pg 9. Different appearance but I’m getting Klan vibes from the attackers Pg 11. I think we need to know not only that A won’t kill, but what he is going to do. Is his plan to leave them here? Try to make sure they can’t keep terrorizing people somehow? Pg 12-13. I’m not getting a strong read on the man A rescued. It could help to focus on what about him stands out.
  7. I'd like a spot for this upcoming week, please!
  8. Hi everyone, Bond of Wildflowers is a teen paranormal romance book I previously submitted most of to this reading group. I figure that reading through entire multiple drafts of the same story isn't going to be the most interesting, but the entire novel has basically been rewritten from scratch so my main question after reading is: Would you be interested in me resubmitting the whole novel, or would you rather see a totally new work? I have other paranormal romance books in a similar style/setting and a fantasy story more typical for this group that I wrote for NaNoWrimo but haven't edited in full yet. Light violence and gore for visual description of blood. Thanks!
  9. Personally, I think a viable option is to cut all of it, and I think that another viable option is to keep certain events (such as a shortened version of the dream sequence) and integrated into the plot hook. So ultimately I think it depends on what--if anything--here is important for getting the plot moving, and combining that with the plot motion we're missing. Without knowing the broader story strokes, I'm not sure I can say definitively one way or the other.
  10. Welcome! I’m excited to get into this! Overall: The good news is that the flow of the story is smooth and easy to follow. However, I can’t quite say I was hooked by this opening. I want to advocate for more plot action with a real inciting incident, but I also get the feeling that the story is aiming to be more slice of life and charming/meandering like a Ghibli movie. If that’s the case, we need a stronger sense of atmosphere right off the bat. Though I’ll also say that regardless of atmosphere, more plot and conflict couldn’t hurt. Also, to me this reads more like middle-grade than YA. How old are R and friends? As I go: Pg 3. I like the first sentence but the length of the following description fizzles the tension a bit Pg 4. Dream sequences are notoriously hard to do because it’s tricky to establish what is “real” and has solid stakes. I think we need to focus on the few impressions that matter here, especially because this isn’t the first time R has seen her father in a dream Pg 5-7. I’m wondering if it’s necessary to open with something so slice of life. I think we either need some plot here to start us off or a really strong atmosphere to draw us into charming daily life. To me the plot seems easier
  11. Thanks, everyone! This was super helpful. It's good to confirm that some of the points like the wolves feel a little scattered--I'll probably want to find a new way or different angle to hint that things are out of the ordinary right off the bat. And assuming nobody else would find it boring to reread over a new draft I think I'll keep subbing this story. Good to know. I think part of the issue is that W has a hard time processing her own emotions in the moment, but that's no excuse for not giving the reader fun dynamics to work with! Basically this. I'll try to make it clearer. Good to hear that this is a consistent comment (and is a result of me doing a lot of cutting without filling the gaps with new storytelling). I like the suggestion about doling out the information more slowly. It's going to be fun thinking about how to reorganize these opening chapters... I'm curious how much of this is a result of me lumping two chapters together in the submission because this is supposed to read like two 2.5k word chapters rather than one 5k word chapter. I can sub one chapter at a time if it's easier to think about that way.
  12. Excited to jump into this! Overall: I think you have a good pulse on the fact that there’s some good stuff in here but it could be cut down a bit. Right now I see the essential events as: A suggests to stay, A suggests to steal chickens, H refutes and leaves in a huff due to the danger. I think the pages of dialogue and internality in between these moments can be turned into paragraphs of summary (or potentially even cut altogether), because right now they feel more relevant for the setting than the plot, and we can get a feel of the setting pretty quickly (even me who’s coming in partway through). Alternatively, if these moments are important to the plot, it needs to be clearer how they connect, either introducing more plot here or waiting until that plot is relevant to bring up these other issues. As I go: Pg 1-2. I’m liking the sense of shift we get in A’s perspective but I don’t think that’s enough to constitute plot motion right now Pg 3. I’m kind of curious what A makes of M. I’m seeing some red flags here lol Pg 5. A suggesting to stay feels like the first bit of real plot atop the setting dressing. I’d suggest summarizing everything before and getting here quickly (I’m thinking page 1-2) Pg 7. A’s second suggestion here is the second real plot event. Again I’d focus more on this and less on the backdrop Pg 8. Maybe I’m in the minority on this but I really like slang in fantasy; keep it up with the “dude” Pg 10. This is another key moment to keep I think. So far I see the plot as A throws out a couple of suggestions and H refutes it. Everything else feels non-essential Pg 11. Wait does he know that M can influence his thoughts or does he just suspect that? Pg 14. If the story wants to focus on A being a beacon of hope for the people I think we need more on that throughout the chapter and it needs to be integrated into their plans to be plot-relevant
  13. I'd like a spot for this coming Monday please (assuming there's room which seems like a safe bet)!
  14. As I go: pg 1. First paragraph is good for establishing characterization of the typical pessimistic, a little bit of a mess detective pg 2-3. I think this version does a better job of showing us how D got to this point in her career pg 4-5. I think a lot of this can be trimmed down. At this point I feel like it's time for the plot hook pg 6-7. This can also be condensed. Personally I don't think it even has to be in scene, since I'm not getting a ton from the other woman. If it were narration with brief interruptions of action from D I think it would read smoother to me. pg 12. Maybe it's the grad student in me talking but I'm really enjoying the bits we get about her past pg 15. I think most of Y's lines are the same but she doesn't grate on me as much now that I get a better feel for D as a bitter academic and how Y counterpoints that pg 17. Oh was Y the person who referred P to D? Overall: I was much more engaged with this than last time, and for me the key difference was that there's a bit more serious to balance out the humor. It feels like a similar principle as the straightman + funnyman, but in this case it's serious moments and lighthearted ones. I especially think focusing more on D's backstory and the real deadly consequences of these crimes are good, and should continue to be a strong focus. The main thing on my mind is that I know you mentioned that you want the story to involve a lot of real science, and I think the story needs to be more upfront about that here. It can even be worked into the humor with other characters or even D herself playing on the technical science being applied to a silly situation. Y seems like a perfect character to try to get technical science facts out of D in a lighthearted way right off the bat. I know I was in the minority about this before but I still also need a better read on why D is going along with Y. The tension between them only works if I feel the pressures that are pushing them together and the ones that are pulling them apart, and right now I only see what's pulling them apart and not what's pushing them together. Part of that is I can't tell if D genuinely hates Y's guts or is only insisting to herself that she does.
  15. I haven't read the previous chapters but since we're skipping one maybe I won't be too far behind everyone else. As I go: pg 1. It feels like the chapter only really starts in the last paragraph. Maybe the earlier stuff could be cut? pg 2. So I'm inferring that M is like a spirit thingy that's a part of A's magic? pg 3-4. I like the dynamic of A grappling with his own powers/healing/morality but I'm not getting a ton from this back and forth pg 5-6. I appreciate that racial reconciliation is presented as being a difficult task but ultimately one that is worth pursuing pg. 7-11. I like the looming threat that's established here but it sounds like that was also established in that previous chapter that hasn't been submitted yet (assuming that's when the meeting takes place), so I'm not quite sure what this tells us Overall: Echoing everyone else, I like a lot of the setup here. As I mentioned, the questions of morality, the race relations, and the looming threat are well-done here. What I think is missing is plot motion. These interesting ideas are all presented but the characters and the story don't really make anything of them. It feels like the story is having conversations for the sake of having conversations rather than to create motion in the story (something my writing is very guilty of so I'm trying to pick it out more and more). We don't need answers to all the issues brought up but we do need progress.
  16. Hi everyone, Thanks for your feedback on the first chapter of this a while back. I'm going to sub a couple more chapters and then try to rewrite and restructure the rest of the story based on feedback. Any and all feedback appreciated! Since I'm basically scrapping the first draft this is exploratory, so prescriptive advice is welcome.
  17. Thanks @Silk! I agree with your assessment and I think part of the issue is that S doesn't really know since it's too important for the authorities to want him to be involved with. Which I think is all the more reason he does need to come to those conclusions. I think reframing Samai's expository thoughts in light of how much he trusts people and what he makes of their motivations could kill two birds with one stone: 1. gives the opportunity to show rather than tell and 2. gives us the grounding that you're missing.
  18. That's good to know. I think that will help but ultimately I also don't think we're going to see the revolutionaries as a huge threat until we see them actually revolt.
  19. Unfortunately I don't have the time to give this the attention it deserves (especially since it has a lot of real potential!), but I'll leave what thoughts I have. This is basically how I feel. I like L's character but I also didn't feel like this was really a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Another thought is that while I think L's character shows us a lot, J comes off as much more standard, and acts as a plot device for L to play off of more than a real fleshed out character. The story understands that L not approaching the situation in the usual way is important for being compelling, and I think there has to be another character with that complexity for him to play off--J is right here as an option but it doesn't have to be him necessarily. Thanks for subbing! Was a fun read.
  20. I continue to be an overworked grad student so my critiques will continue to be succinct. Hope it's still helpful! -I feel like at this point we might need more answers about the first page blurb. Interesting setup especially with the narrator but we don't really have payoff for these sections yet -2nd section with Ji is solid and I like her and F. I feel like there should be more communal support for A though, even if she doesn't think it's necessary, just out of necessity given how scarce resources probably are. It feels like they're operating under the 21st century western idea of a nuclear family but that's not really the culture they come from as generationals right? -3rd section with Ja didn't quite hit the mark for me. We get a lot of exposition for the admins who are talking but really what I want to know is what motivates their different perspectives and how that leads to conflict. The discussion feels a bit low-stakes right now despite the important matters which makes the whole thing feel like an info dump at times -The next couple of Fr sections were mixed for me. I continue to really like the bees but the problems presented here don't seem particularly new and we don't get a ton of motion in those conflicts -The An section was very engaging for me but again what I really want is for this to come to a head soon which it sounds like it's not going to. I also continue to like An's voice as a total a-hole who is afraid of the masses rising up. Another thought here is that this is one of the first times that (some of) the Gens have actually tried pushing back to get a policy change. If the message here is "people need to not fight each other when they need each other to survive" I think that has to come from the Admin side too. If the Gens are so critical like we're being told they should be willing to make at least a few concessions, right? So long as the Admins understand the gravity of the situation anyways which it seems like they do -Okay so the Ja section after gives me more info on what the F sections were supposed to do. I think what I need more focus on is why they're turning to this now specifically -Why don't the Admins want communal raising of kids? If anything that should make it easier for them to keep them from developing dangerous ideas in a centralized manner, right?
  21. Thanks for the feedback @Mandamon @Warmacky. I had a feeling this chapter was a bit info-dumpy. Me trying to take a bunch of time to show character aspects in the first draft took up so much space that there was no real story to contextualize it, and so this draft I leaned hard the other way intentionally and tried to condense info into exposition to get the story moving (especially since these characters stand out a lot in the world; for example in the first draft when we see C it's all about them being nonbinary for 3k words but here it's not mentioned yet at all since they don't have a reason to out themself yet and it's not really plot-relevant). Now it's about finding that middle ground while further cutting dynamics that aren't needed.
  22. I'll have a slot for the 25th, please! And I know @Mandamon only suggested subbing twice if nobody else is taking a slot, but in general I'm fine bending the one sub per week rule so long as we're clear and consistent about when it's okay. Though if we want to stick to something more rigid that's fine too.
  23. First part: As usual I really like the political maneuvering and since it's not fully coming to a head this book I think my expectations might need to be tempered. If the generationals are acknowledging the issues but are explicitly seeing them as problems for well down the line with proper reasoning then I'll be more okay seeing it delayed. Second part: Woo this is really exciting. One thing I want more clarity on is why D should be dead already (brain being crushed in skill by biomass?) and why he might still be alive. I'm wondering if there's a chance some parts of his body really aren't working and he's a quasi-fungus-zombie. Third part: Really solid, and the recap of the situation really hits hard. There's something really powerful about the child being what's remains of D's dreams and goals.
  24. First part: Most of what I'm interested by here is the trees, and less so by all the specifics of them fighting the fungus off. I think the broad strokes (that they need the mortar) are important for setting up the stakes, but if you're looking for places to cut this could be an area to investigate. Not that it was ever outright boring though; I just didn't quite feel like I got a full ten pages worth of story dynamics with all of the action Second part: I was really engaged here! I'd been wondering for a while about potential coexistence with the biomass and seeing what it does to the bees complicates the situation in a good way. I am curious about some of the broader implications here, though. It might be worth spelling out that honeybees being eusocial means the fungus can spread across the entire hive very easily, and I assume they're using the bees to pollinate their crops. Since we know that the fungus can do something that looks like hybridization with plants, there seems like a real risk of fungi hybridizing with crops during pollination--or just spreading fungus onto the surface. I'd be curious what F thinks about that. Also idk how much F falls on the evolution/genetics side of biology but when those kinds of people talk about "adaptation" it specifically refers to evolution, so him talking about humans adapting to the planet doesn't make sense from that perspective. But then again, there are terms like "adaptive immune system" that have nothing to do with adaptation so it can be pretty loose. Just a minor rambling.
  25. Catching up with short critiques: Overall: Like others mentioned, this was pretty smooth albeit a bit slow. No huge concerns from me. 1st section: I'm guessing this isn't normal from D? Is A worried at all that the fungus is messing with his brain? The PoV is distant which is fine but we might need more of her thoughts to parse what this means 2nd section: How much of this exposition do we actually need? I think the story's going for J navigating the scene deftly enough by making them give the reports so she can swoop in at the right time with her plan, but is that even necessary if she says that nobody's questioning her?